Are you looking for more ways to track your fertility or signs of pregnancy? Do you know much about your cervix such as what it does and how to locate it?
Your cervix is the opening to your uterus located inside the vagina, and it’s a part of your body that is always changing to reflect what is going on with your reproductive parts.
What many women do not realize is that they can check their cervical position on their own, and it doesn’t only have to be when they’re getting close to giving birth.
Why Should I Check My Cervical Position?
Knowledge is power. Aside from knowing more about your body, having the ability to perform checks on your cervical position can help you become pregnant as well as assist you as you get closer to giving birth.
We’ve all heard the term “10 centimeters dilated,” but I had no idea what that actually meant until I had my own child. As your body prepares to give birth, your cervix dilates, or expands and stretches to create a bigger opening.
The Cervix Rocks
Is Cervical Position a Pregnancy Indicator?
It’s possible to use a cervical check as a way to determine if you’re pregnant, but it will never be as reliable as a home test or a blood test at the doctor’s office. Your cervix can change for many reasons and often does, depending on your cycle.
When you’re pregnant, your cervix will be higher and softer than other times in your cycle. This will feel similar to when you’re the most fertile, but it lasts for longer. If you have a good relationship and intimacy with your own body, checking on your cervix can help confirm pregnancy suspicions early on.
Even so, it’s better not to rely only on this sign. Every woman has a different body, a different cervix, and a different reaction to pregnancy. Don’t be discouraged if your cervix doesn’t feel like it changed — you may still be pregnant!
Tracking Fertility by Checking the Cervix
Checking your cervical position has the most benefit for those who are trying to become pregnant. There are tons of ways you can track your fertility to time when you have sex to increase your chances of pregnancy.
As your body begins to prepare to house a baby, it begins to change and move slightly to allow a pregnancy to happen. Your cervix will move upwards, opening slightly, and softening as your blood increases. You can feel these changes pretty obviously, and that’s how you can know when it’s time to start making that baby!
What Does the Cervix Feel Like?
How your cervix feels depends on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle or pregnancy. It will always feel different from the rest of your vagina and with practice, you’ll be able to identify it quickly!
Most of the inside of your vagina will be soft and spongy, but the cervix is a harder spot deep in the back and up. The closer to ovulation you get, the softer and wider it becomes, but it still won’t feel like the walls of your vagina. Instead, you’ll feel something like a button.
The walls of the vagina are also rough and irregular because of rugae on the surface, which gives it elasticity. The cervix, on the other hand, is donut-shaped, completely smooth with a dent where the cervical opening is.
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
How to Check Cervical Position
You shouldn’t be nervous about checking on your own body, so first, make sure you’re relaxed and ready to spend a couple of minutes investigating yourself. Knowing how to check your cervix safely can come in handy for pregnancy or future fertility tracking, and it’s a great skill to learn!
1. Wash Your Hands
Any time you’re going to be messing with your vagina, especially if you’re pregnant, you have to make sure your hands are clean. Introducing germs and bacteria into your vagina will only cause problems for you if you get an infection.
It’s also important to mention that you shouldn’t try to check your cervix if you’re dealing with a pre-existing infection, like a bacterial or yeast infection. Outside contamination will only make it worse.
2. Find a Comfortable Squat
Some women think the toilet is the most comfortable place to get ready to explore inside their vagina and others like to put a leg up on the side of the tub. You can position yourself any way you like as long as you’re squatting or spread out enough to open your vagina and you’re comfortable.
I find that popping a squat on the bathroom floor over a handheld mirror is the easiest because I can check everything related to my vagina at once and have accompanying visuals when it comes to my explorative journey.
3. Reach-In and Up Slowly and Gently
Don’t rush this part! Be gentle with yourself and slowly push your index finger as far back as it will go inside of your vagina. You can use your middle finger, too, if that works better. Run your finger along the top of your vagina once it’s been inserted to the back.
If you’re just starting, this could take a few moments to get the hang of. As long as you’re not in pain or uncomfortable, it’s safe to continue feeling around in there until you come across something that feels unusual. That’s your cervix!
4. Memorize the Way it Feels and Document Any Changes
The first time you find your cervix on your own, you won’t be able to know how different it is from any other time, but document what you did feel. If you’re tracking your pregnancy, determine how firm you think the cervix felt and then keep up with checking on it until you feel it soften.
You can also inspect your fingers afterward and document the consistency and color of your discharge. Discharge is a completely normal part of having a vagina, and it can help you pinpoint where you are in your cycle for timing sex to your fertility calendar.
Dangers To Checking Your Cervix
As long as your hands are clean and your nails are trimmed neatly and not long, jagged, or sharp, there is little risk to checking your cervix before pregnancy. The biggest concern comes from the potential to introduce bacteria to your vagina, especially close to labor.
There is also the risk for disappointment if you try to rely too much on your cervix when checking for early pregnancy signs, or as the only way to track your fertility. Pairing the position of your cervix with other methods to answer your questions will provide the most accurate results and hopefully protect you from dashed hopes.
Tips For Checking Your Cervix
While this process isn’t hard to do, there are a few things you should remember before checking your cervical position. Here are some handy tidbits of information to give you an even better clue at what your body is doing, how, and why.
1. Your Cervix Can Be Dilated for 3 weeks Before Giving Birth
If you’re hoping to get an early heads-up about when you’re going into labor, don’t rely on your cervix. You can be up to 3 centimeters dilated for weeks before the actual birthing process begins.
2. Sometimes Your Cervix Won’t Close Completely
Having children can affect the way your cervix feels, so what you felt before may never be that way again once the baby is born. Many women experience a cervix that is perpetually slightly open after giving birth, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t track fertility by checking its position. The firmness and the position will still be helpful indicators of fertility.
3. Look for Mucus Changes
All the hormones that affect your cervical position also affect your mucus or discharge the same way. Vaginal mucus seems to be something that is rarely talked about with women, but it’s one of the most accurate and helpful ways to figure out when you’re the most fertile.
When you’re at your most fertile, your discharge will be clear with a slippery, elastic, and stretchy consistency like egg white. (1)
In early pregnancy, vaginal discharge changes to thick or milky white mucus known as leukorrhea.
4. Sexual Arousal Changes Everything
Checking on your cervical position after or during sex will never give you an accurate answer. Your body changes during sex or when aroused and your cervix will move, so wait a few hours before feeling for any changes. Give your hormones and your body the time to chill back out (2).